|Man Booker Prize|
|Awarded for||Best original novel, written in the English language, and published in the UK|
|Location||Guildhall, London, England|
|Presented by||Man Group|
|First awarded||1969(as Booker-McConnell Prize)|
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Booker-McConnell Prize and commonly known simply as the Booker Prize) is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel, written in the English language and published in the UK. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured international renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for the book trade. From its inception, only Commonwealth, Irish, and South African (and later Zimbabwean) citizens were eligible to receive the prize; in 2014, however, this eligibility was widened to any English-language novel—a change which proved controversial. In 2016 and 2017, the prize was won by writers from the United States.
A high-profile literary award in British culture, the Booker Prize is greeted with great anticipation and fanfare. It is also a mark of distinction for authors to be selected for inclusion in the shortlist or even to be nominated for the "longlist".
History and administration
The prize was originally known as the Booker–McConnell Prize, after the company Booker, McConnell Ltd began sponsoring the event in 1968; it became commonly known as the "Booker Prize" or simply "the Booker".
When administration of the prize was transferred to the Booker Prize Foundation in 2002, the title sponsor became the investment company Man Group, which opted to retain "Booker" as part of the official title of the prize. The foundation is an independent registered charity funded by the entire profits of Booker Prize Trading Ltd, of which it is the sole shareholder. The prize money awarded with the Booker Prize was originally £21,000, and was subsequently raised to £50,000 in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Man Group, making it one of the world's richest literary prizes.
In 1970, Bernice Rubens became the first woman to win the Booker Prize, for The Elected Member. The rules of the Booker changed in 1971; previously, it had been awarded retrospectively to books published prior to the year in which the award was given. In 1971 the year of eligibility was changed to the same as the year of the award; in effect, this meant that books published in 1970 were not considered for the Booker in either year. The Booker Prize Foundation announced in January 2010 the creation of a special award called the "Lost Man Booker Prize," with the winner chosen from a longlist of 22 novels published in 1970.
Before 2001, each year's longlist of nominees was not publicly revealed.
John Sutherland, who was a judge for the 1999 prize, has said,
There is a well-established London literary community. Rushdie doesn't get shortlisted now because he has attacked that community. That is not a good game plan if you want to win the Booker. Norman Mailer has found the same thing in the US – you have to "be a citizen" if you want to win prizes. The real scandal is that [Martin] Amis has never won the prize. In fact, he has only been shortlisted once and that was for Time's Arrow, which was not one of his strongest books. That really is suspicious. He pissed people off with Dead Babies and that gets lodged in the culture. There is also the feeling that he has always looked towards America.
In 1972, the winning writer John Berger, known for his Marxist worldview, protested during his acceptance speech against Booker McConnell. He blamed Booker's 130 years of sugar production in the Caribbean for the region's modern poverty. Berger donated half of his £5,000 prize to the British Black Panther movement, because they had a socialist and revolutionary perspective in agreement with his own.
In 1980, Anthony Burgess, writer of Earthly Powers, refused to attend the ceremony unless it was confirmed to him in advance whether he had won. His was one of two books considered likely to win, the other being Rites of Passage by William Golding. The judges decided only 30 minutes before the ceremony, giving the prize to Golding. Both novels had been seen as favourites to win leading up to the prize, and the dramatic "literary battle" between two senior writers made front page news.
Judging for the 1983 award produced a draw between J. M. Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K and Salman Rushdie's Shame, leaving chair of judges Fay Weldon to choose between the two. According to Stephen Moss in The Guardian, "Her arm was bent and she chose Rushdie" only to change her mind as the result was being phoned through.
In 1993, two of the judges threatened to walk out when Trainspotting appeared on the longlist; Irvine Welsh's novel was pulled from the shortlist to satisfy them. The novel would later receive critical acclaim, and is now considered Welsh's masterpiece.
The award has been criticised for the types of books it covers. In 1981, nominee John Banville wrote a letter to The Guardian requesting that the prize be given to him so that he could use the money to buy every copy of the longlisted books in Ireland and donate them to libraries, "thus ensuring that the books not only are bought but also read — surely a unique occurrence." In 1994, Guardian literary editor Richard Gott, citing the lack of objective criteria and the exclusion of American authors, described the prize as "a significant and dangerous iceberg in the sea of British culture that serves as a symbol of its current malaise."
In 1997, the decision to award Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things proved controversial. Carmen Callil, chair of the previous year's Booker judges, called it an "execrable" book and said on television that it shouldn't even have been on the shortlist. Booker Prize chairman Martyn Goff said Roy won because nobody objected, following the rejection by the judges of Bernard MacLaverty's shortlisted book due to their dismissal of him as "a wonderful short-story writer and that Grace Notes was three short stories strung together."
In 2001, A. L. Kennedy, who was a judge in 1996, called the prize "a pile of crooked nonsense" with the winner determined by "who knows who, who's sleeping with who, who's selling drugs to who, who's married to who, whose turn it is".
The Booker prized created a permanent home for the archives from 1968 to present at Oxford Brookes University Library. The Archive, which encompasses the administrative history of the Prize from 1968 to date, collects together a diverse range of material, including correspondence, publicity material, copies of both the Longlists and the Shortlists, minutes of meetings, photographs and material relating to the awards dinner (letters of invitation, guest lists, seating plans). Embargoes of ten or twenty years apply to certain categories of material; examples include all material relating to the judging process and the Longlist prior to 2002.
Between 2005 and 2008, the Booker Prize alternated between writers from Ireland and India. "Outsider" John Banville began this trend in 2005 when his novel The Sea was selected as a surprise winner: Boyd Tonkin, literary editor of The Independent, famously condemned it as "possibly the most perverse decision in the history of the award" and rival novelist Tibor Fischer poured scorn on Banville's victory. Kiran Desai of India won in 2006. Anne Enright's 2007 victory came about due to a jury badly split over Ian McEwan's novel On Chesil Beach. The following year it was India's turn again, with Aravind Adiga narrowly defeating Enright's fellow Irishman Sebastian Barry.
Historically, the winner of the Man Booker Prize had been required to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe. It was announced on 18 September 2013 that future Man Booker Prize awards would consider authors from anywhere in the world, so long as their work was in English and published in the UK. This change proved controversial in literary circles. Former winner A. S. Byatt and former judge John Mullan said the prize risked diluting its identity, whereas former judge A. L. Kennedy welcomed the change. Following this expansion, the first winner not from the Commonwealth, Ireland, or Zimbabwe was American Paul Beatty in 2016. Another American, George Saunders, won the following year.
The selection process for the winner of the prize commences with the formation of an advisory committee, which includes a writer, two publishers, a literary agent, a bookseller, a librarian, and a chairperson appointed by the Booker Prize Foundation. The advisory committee then selects the judging panel, the membership of which changes each year, although on rare occasions a judge may be selected a second time. Judges are selected from amongst leading literary critics, writers, academics and leading public figures.
The winner is usually announced at a ceremony in London's Guildhall, usually in early October.
In 1993, to mark the prize's 25th anniversary, a "Booker of Bookers" Prize was given. Three previous judges of the award, Malcolm Bradbury, David Holloway and W. L. Webb, met and chose Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, the 1981 winner, as "the best novel out of all the winners."
Similarly, The Best of the Booker was awarded in 2008 to celebrate the prize's 40th anniversary. A shortlist of six winners was chosen and the decision was left to a public vote; the winner was again Midnight's Children.
- In 1971, the nature of the Prize was changed so that it was awarded to novels published in that year instead of in the previous year; therefore, no novel published in 1970 could win the Booker Prize. This was rectified in 2010 by the awarding of the "Lost Man Booker Prize" to J. G. Farrell's Troubles.
A separate prize for which any living writer in the world may qualify, the Man Booker International Prize was inaugurated in 2005. Until 2015, it was given every two years to a living author of any nationality for a body of work published in English or generally available in English translation. In 2016, the award was significantly reconfigured, and is now given annually to a single book in English translation, with a £50,000 prize for the winning title, shared equally between author and translator.
A Russian version of the Booker Prize was created in 1992 called the Booker-Open Russia Literary Prize, also known as the Russian Booker Prize. In 2007, Man Group plc established the Man Asian Literary Prize, an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year.
As part of The Times' Literature Festival in Cheltenham, a Booker event is held on the last Saturday of the festival. Four guest speakers/judges debate a shortlist of four books from a given year from before the introduction of the Booker prize, and a winner is chosen. Unlike the real Man Booker (1969 through 2014), writers from outside the Commonwealth are also considered. In 2008, the winner for 1948 was Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, beating Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter and Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One. In 2015, the winner for 1915 was Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier, beating The Thirty-Nine Steps (John Buchan), Of Human Bondage (Somerset Maugham), Psmith, Journalist (P. G. Wodehouse) and The Voyage Out (Virginia Woolf).
- List of British literary awards
- List of literary awards
- Commonwealth Writers Prize
- Grand Prix of Literary Associations
- Costa Book Awards
- Prix Goncourt
- Governor General's Awards
- Scotiabank Giller Prize
- Miles Franklin Award
- Russian Booker Prize
- Samuel Johnson Prize (non-fiction)
- German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis)
- Sutherland, John (9 October 2008). "The Booker's Big Bang". New Statesman. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- "Meet The Man Booker Prize 2014 Judges". 12 December 2013.
- "'A surprise and a risk': Reaction to Booker Prize upheaval". BBC News. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- "Man Booker prize goes to second American author in a row". Guardian. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
- Hoover, Bob (10 February 2008). "'Gathering' storm clears for prize winner Enright". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
In America, literary prizes are greeted with the same enthusiasm as a low Steelers draft choice. Not so in the British Isles, where the $98,000 Man Booker Fiction Prize can even push Amy Winehouse off the front page – at least for a day. The atmosphere around the award approaches sports-championship proportions, with London bookies posting the ever-changing odds on the nominees. Then, in October when the winner is announced live on the BBC TV evening news, somebody always gets ticked off.
- "Man Booker Prize: a history of controversy, criticism and literary greats". The Guardian. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "Booker Prize: legal information". bookerprize.com. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- James Kidd, "A Brief History of The Man Booker Prize", South China Morning Post, 5 March 2006.
- "The Lost Man Booker Prize announced". bookerprize.com. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
- "Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro (Chatto & Windus, November)". The Guardian. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
As the only writer to sneak on to the Booker shortlist for a collection of short stories (with The Beggar Maid in 1980), Alice Munro easily deserves to end our list of the year's best fiction.
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- Jordison, Sam (15 April 2009). "Booker club: Rites of Passage". The Guardian.
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- Jordison, Sam (15 May 2009). "Booker club: Schindler's Ark". The Guardian.
- Jordison, Sam (16 June 2009). "Booker club: Life and Times of Michael K". The Guardian.
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- Jordison, Sam (20 November 2009). "Booker club: The Bone People by Keri Hulme". The Guardian.
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